Skip to Main Content
A cardiologist holds a stethoscope to check her patient's heart rate and rhythm.


Often a symptom of coronary artery disease, angina is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. It can be difficult to distinguish angina from other forms of chest pain, so seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the symptoms below.

Angina symptoms

  • Chest pain that feels like burning, fullness, pressure, or squeezing
  • Pain in the arms, neck, jaw, shoulders, or back
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

Causes of angina

Angina is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. The most common cause of restricted blood flow is coronary artery disease. During times of rest, the heart may still be able to work with reduced blood flow. However, when the demand for oxygen is up, it can result in angina.

Types of angina

  • Stable angina is the most common form of the condition. It usually occurs during activity and goes away with rest or medication.
  • Unstable angina occurs at rest and can be unpredictable. Pain doesn’t go away with medication and often requires emergency treatment.
  • Variant angina, or Prinzmetal angina, isn’t caused by coronary artery disease but rather a spasm of the heart’s arteries restricting blood flow. The pain can be relieved with medication.
  • Refractory angina occurs in frequent episodes despite medication and lifestyle changes.

Angina risk factors

  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Diabetes 
  • Certain medications
  • Other conditions
  • Cold temperatures

How to prevent angina

  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing other health conditions related to heart disease
  • Reducing stress
  • Getting recommended vaccines to avoid heart complications

Treating angina

The following list is the one a cardiologist would use to help improve symptoms of angina.

If you are having a heart attack, which happens when parts of the heart do not receive enough blood flow, you may notice some of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain. Pain in the center or left side of the chest is one of the most common signs of a heart attack. You may feel a tightness, fullness, or squeezing sensation that can last for several minutes.
  • Discomfort in the upper body. This can include pain in the arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, back, and stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. While this symptom usually accompanies chest pain, it can occur before the discomfort starts.
  • Lightheadedness. In combination with other symptoms, feeling as though you are about to pass out is a common indicator of a heart attack.
  • Heart palpitations. You may begin to feel irregular or skipping heartbeats.

Heart attack symptoms can happen on and off, or continuously over the course of a few minutes or a few hours. Chances are, if you have been experiencing chest pain for several days or weeks, it is not related to a heart attack.

If you see somebody having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Have them chew and swallow an aspirin, which helps prevent blood clots if they are conscious. If they lose consciousness, administer CPR or follow the instructions on an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is immediately available.

Find a Doctor

Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.

Contact Our Nurse Navigator

To learn more about cardiovascular disease management or treatment options, reach out to our Nurse Navigator.